If you serve no purpose to other people, do you have the right to exist? Ideally the answer is yes, so why does it feel like a no?

There’s nothing wrong. I need to remember that. I am not guilty of this giant crime that sits over me like a rain cloud. Everything is telling me I’ve done something wrong by not being of more use to those around me.

It’s starting again, the fear. The fear as soon as I wake up. The fear of leaving my room. Of bumping into everyone who lives with me. I feel so guilty anytime someone lays eyes on me. What have I done today? Why didn’t I do more?

I felt very sick today, have for a couple days. But I got up early and helped prep for the day and take my nephew to school. Then I made breakfast for the adults. Then I went to my room to allow everyone to focus while working from home and stayed quiet as possible. Later I helped pick up my nephew. Then we came home and I entertained him for at least an hour so that the house was quiet. I made myself some lunch and left the kitchen as clean as before, ate in my room. My stomachs been killing me and so I curled up in a little ball after lunch. I was only gone at most two hours.

I came out because I heard someone leaving and so I knew I had to watch over my nephew. He had fallen asleep on the couch. I went to the bathroom and proceeded to puke my guts out. I washed up and came out to watch over my nephew and sit a minute. I lay there about ten minutes before I had to get up and puke some more. I didn’t stop till there was nothing left, my muscles hurt from dry heaving.

I washed up again and went to the kitchen. I started cleaning up. Woke my nephew so he could sleep at night. He asked me for food and I made him some dinner. Then I went back to the kitchen once he had his plate and washed all the dishes. Cleaned the counter tops. I still felt like crap.

I finished up in the kitchen and connected us to our church meeting via zoom. Got my nephew to join me because his mom likes that kind of thing. We were still home alone and I wanted nothing more than to go to my bed and curl up in the fetal position. But I wanted to make sure he was alright and wait with him till his mom came back.

And maybe that’s not a lot. Maybe to most people this is the bare minimum. But it’s what I managed to do and frankly I was happy with it. I knew I felt sick as a dog but I was glad with myself for putting in the effort and in my mind make the afternoon as simple as possible for the hardworking people in my household.

But now I’ve run to my room after the mood has gone dark. I see it, this glaring error I’ve made. I didn’t clean the stove. And so I’ve done nothing at all. I don’t understand how that works but it does. Whatever I don’t do is always so much more important than what I did do. I offered to help once I saw them cleaning up. I can wash the grates while they clean the stove top and just like that the jobs done in half the time. I know I’ve messed up, I can tell by the clipped answers, the low tones that barely register as words. I can try anyway, if I’m cheerful enough sometimes I can be forgiven.

But that’s not how it happens. It happens like this:

In my happiest, most willing voice I go, “Hey! These need washin’?”

And my answer is handed to me by someone who doesn’t even look up. Who does not deign me with much of an acknowledgement to my existence. There’s a smile there, a cold and dead one that doesn’t mean happy at all. A huff of laughter as if my very offering is a slap in the face. “I’m already doing it, OrangeTree.” And their voice is barely there, a raspy little whisper.

It’s nothing. Nothing at all. But it’s everything too. Because there’s no hitting or yelling, but that’s not the only way to hurt another person. To punish them. There’s the opposite too.

You phase them out of existence. You don’t look at them. You don’t speak to them. You don’t love them anymore.

And you say with your words and your eyes and the way you slam everything down: “You’re useless, and useless people get nothing. Not even love. Especially not love.”

So here I am, in my own room, trying to forget a lifetime of being a ghost. Of living and dying depending on the mood of those around me. Living and dying depending on the faux pas I made today. One second I am here and I am a sweet heart, I’m so nice, so helpful. And the next I’ve never done anything at all and I’m dead.

So I’m telling myself, I’m alive. I’m alive. I don’t need to be forgiven, I tried my absolute best.

I don’t need to be forgiven, I did nothing wrong.

I’m not useless, and if I were, being useless is not a crime.

I still deserve love.

I still exist.

I am right here and I am real and no one hates me.

I am real and loved and don’t need to be forgiven.

I love and forgive myself and this way I can never die. I am no ghost. I am flesh and bone and I’ve done nothing wrong.

 

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